|Can Ryan Madson return to form?|
As they say, it's difficult to screw up a one-year contract. Madson is coming off a missed season due to Tommy John surgery but will be giving every opportunity to become the Angels full-time closer and return to his form pre-2012. Unfortunately, Madson has suffered what hopes to be just a minor setback early in spring training this year. Rough estimates put him pitching in big league games come mid-April. Ernesto Frieri will likely take on the closing duties until Madson returns.
Burnett and Downs will share set-up duties with Burnett being used mostly against lefties. Downs has been solid for the Angels but has also been injury prone and turns 37 in March, so don't be surprised if Burnett takes on a bigger set-up role for the Angels than he had with the Nationals.
Who will round out the rest of the Angels bullpen is still yet to be determined. It's a safe bet that Kevin Jepsen, who struggled in 2011 and early in 2012, will make the bullpen after an excellent second-half last season. To stick around, Jepsen needs to be consistent. His career has been marked by wild fluctuations and extended triple-A stints. The Angels hope that Jepsen can stick around this time.
After re-signing Jerome Williams to a one-year deal, you can probably expect him and his signature pink glove to once again be a part of the Angels bullpen come opening day. His duties will include long relief, sixth inning duties and possibly the occasional spot start.
Whether the bullpen includes anyone else will be determined if Mike Scioscia decides to go with 6 or 7 relief pitchers. Chances are Scioscia chooses to go with four bench players and forego an extra pitcher in the bullpen. However, if he does opt for an extra bullpen pitcher, he has plenty of options to choose from.
Bobby Cassevah, Michael Kohn, Steven Geltz, and David Carpenter all have logged time in the Angels bullpen. The Angels also recently signed long-time Japanese pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a one-year deal. He could be a dark horse for the last spot in the bullpen. Garrett Richards has also spent significant time pitching out of the Angels bullpen. However, it should be expected that Richards spends another year in Triple-A being groomed as a possible back of the rotation starter. His appearances last year out of the 'pen was more out of necessity due to its struggles last year.